All the little words

Most used words in Bodwe’wadmimwen


Wi                                            future (will or want to)

Ke/ge                                       future (not as strong)

Ta/da                                       future (can, should, could)

Ki/gi                                         past (have or did)

Ki/gi gish                                 past already

Wa                                           future (subordinate form)

Ga                                            past (subordinate form)

Da gi                                        should have

É                                              immediate future intent

Particles, by category.


Jo                                             no, not

Jo wi                                        not (emphatic)

Jo mamda                               not possible

Jo wika                                    never

Jo weye                                   no one

Jo gégo                                    nothing, zero

Jo mshe                                   not yet

Jo ngoji                                    nowhere

Gégo                                        don’t


Éhé                                          yes (northern)

Konegé                                    yes (southern)


Mégwa                                    still

Mojma                                    irregardless, anyway

Mamkach                                have to

Gimoch                                    secretly

Néyap                                      back, same

Nanbén                                    too late

Nawech                                   at the same time

Gégpi                                       finally, at last

Ayapen                                    the same

Abje                                         very

Abdég                                      have to, be necessary that

Neko                                        used to

Iw yédeg                                  must be

Gnebej                                     maybe

Bama                                       later, wait

Bama pi                                   later on

Débnag                                    carelessly

Égaj                                         take it easy, slow down

Éshkem                                    harder, more intense

Gaga                                        almost, soon

Gawa                                       hardly, scarcely

Gnewésh                                 for a long time

Kyénep                                    hurry up, go quickly

Nangodgen                              sometimes, once in awhile

Pi                                             unit of time

Mamkaj                                   have to

Mamey                                    early, soon

Mano                                       let him/her, anyway, its all right                               


Ibe                                           there

Ézhi                                          over there

Shote                                       here

Bijbyék                                    in the water

Bijigwan                                  inside something

Giwta yégwan                         around something

Jigakwa                                   at the edge of the woods

Jigatek                                     by trees

Jigbyék                                    by the water, on shore

Kwedbyék                                on the water

Kwejbyék                                 on top of the water

Nambyék                                 under the water

Namkemek                              under the ground

Namsek                                   in the basement, under the floor

Nanaw yégwan                       in the middle of it

Nbené yégwan                        on one side of something

Nekmek                                   everywhere, different places

Ngoji                                        anywhere, somewhere

Pemé yégwan                         on the side of something

Shkwé yégwan                        at the end, the last

Shpemek                                 above, in the air. Heaven

Shpemsegok                            somewhere up above

Zagje yégwan                          outside of it

Zhiw, zhi                                  there


Bbon, pon                                year


Dwe                                         kind, sort

Gégo                                        something, anything (inanimate)

Jak gégo                                  everything

Jo gégo                                    none, nothing (inanimate)

Jo weye                                   no one, nobody

Mje gégo                                 trouble, bad thing

Weye                                       someone, somebody, something (animate)

Wégwdegwén                         whatever, I wonder what (inanimate dubitative)

Wégwdegwéndek                   whatever, I wonder what (inanimate dubitative)

Wégwén                                  whoever, someone, something (animate     interrogative)


Bbonog, ponog                        last winter

Dgwagog                                 last fall

Égme-bbon, égme-pon           every winter

Égme-gishek                           every day

Égme-niben                             every summer

Égme-waben                           every morning, every dawn

Gaggé                                      forever. implying eternal

Gizes                                        month

Keshéb                                     early in the morning

Kewé                                       first

Shkweyégwan                         last


Aizhok                                      back and forth

Aidwegmeg                             on both sides of the house

Aidwe-yégwan                        on both sides

Azhwe-yégwan                        on the other side, beyond

Azhokne                                   across the road

Azhodaki, azhodakig               over the hill

Azhogmeg                               behind the house

Azho-odan                               across town

Azhwekwe                               beyond the woods

Azhegamdés                            on the other side of the room

Azhweseg                                in the next room

Béshoj                                     close

Bijigwan                                  inside of something

Bideg                                       indoors

Bke-yégwan                            off to the side

Bnoj                                         far away

Gojeg                                       outdoors

Jigateg                                     by trees

Jiggemeg                                 near a house or lodge

Jigigwan                                  near here

Jig-mbes                                  next to the lake

Jig-myéw                                 next to the road

Jig-odaneg                               near town

Jig-shkwedé                             by the fire

Jig-zibe                                    next to the river

Kwédagon                               on top of the snow

Kwédajwen                              upstream

Kwedaki                                   uphill

Kwédbeg                                 on the roof

Kwédbyég or kwéjbyég           on the water

Kwéjgemeg or kwédgemeg    on top of a house

Kwéjigwan                               on top

Mchig                                      in the open, on the ground


Énwég                                     better

Anwe                                       all right, okay

anasab, nasab                         the same

Ashteg                                     next, in turn

Babkan                                    all different

Bkan                                        different

Nsheké                                    alone

Wzam                                      too much

Nwéch                                     more

Weshmé                                  more

Neshna                                    any old way

Dédénewé                               of ones’ own, in a close relationship

Géte                                        surely


Anet                                         some or part

Mine anet                                some more

Mine ngot                                another

Mjésh                                      many, a lot

Ne ish                                      both

Ayanet                                     some of each

Jag, jak                                    all

Jayég                                       all

Abte                                         half

Bgéji                                        a little

Jag gégo                                  all, everything

Jag weye                                  everyone

Mamwé                                   together, in all, in total

Dso                                          a certain number, a certain amount, so many, so much


Dbégas                                    an inch

Dbégen                                    hour, yard, mile, a large measurement

Abte                                         half

Abtoshkas                                twenty five pound bag

Abtoshken                               fifty pound bag

Gishkbojgen                            bushel

Ngot-gishkbojgen                    one bushel

Modey                                     gallon

Ngodokek                                one painful

Ngodoshkas                             one little sackful

Ngodoshken                            one sack, one sackful

Ngodwabyék                           one piece

Ngodwadswabyék                   six pieces

Ngodwéwan                            one pair, one set

Ngod dégas                             one minute

Ngod dbégen                           one mile

Ngod gizes                               one month

Ngod kiwés                              one acre

Ngod kwénamwas                   one second

Ngod nemégizhek                   one week

Ngod zet                                  one foot

Nswabyék                                three pieces

Nizhwéwan                              two pairs, two sets

Nsek                                        three times

Nyanek                                    five times

Nyano bbon                             five years

Nyano dbégas                         five minutes

Nyano dbégen                         five hours

Nyano gizes                             five months

Nyano kwénamwasek             five seconds

Nyano nemégizhek                 five weeks

Nyanogwen                             five days

Nyanwabyék                            five pieces

Nye’w dbégen                         four hours

Nye’wabyék                             four pieces

Nyéwek                                   four times

Nyéwgon                                 four days


Éko-nisheg                               the second


I gwien, I gwshe gwiyen          thank you (southern)

Migwéch                                 thank you (northern)

Mojma                                    please

Gazha                                      please

Wéwéne                                  thank you, it is right, proper


Weye                                       someone

Gégo                                        something

Ngoji                                        someplace


Ne                                            (indicates a yes/no question)

Wéni je                                    who

Wéni                                        who?

Wégni je                                  what

Wégni                                      what?

Ni je                                         how—-why

Ni je na                                    how are you

Ni pi je                                     where, where?

Ni pi                                         where?

Ni je wpi/ni jo pi                      when, when?

Ni wpi                                      when?

Ni je wi                                    why, why?

Ni je dso                                  how much, how many?

Wa?                                         Huh?, what?


Se (se wi, se wi zhe)               

Iw pi                                        that’s when

Iw dso                                      that’s how much

Yé                                            that’s it (used with iw, niw, etc., for example)

I ye’ I                                        “that’s it!”


Migwéch                                 thanks (Northern)

Wéwéne                                  thanks (Southern, Pokagon Band)

Bozho                                      hello (accompanied by a handshake)

Ahaw                                       okay (in agreement)

Na                                            emphatic

Zhena                                      emphatic

Zhe                                          emphatic

Gwshe                                     emphatic (possibly means “obviously”)

Iw je                                        and then

Wi                                            empahtic


Mine                                        and

Je                                             but, and

Iw je                                        and then

Gé                                            too, also

Je wi zhe                                  but

Wi zhe                                     but

Anaké                                      either, or

Gishpen                                   if

Ma                                           but

Ma wi                                      but (ma used with emphatic wi)


Haw, hau                                 well, so

Ahaw, ahau                             okay, (in agreement)

Hé                                            hey, so!

Iyo                                           hey! Ouch!

Kwansegkemeg                       terrible! (women use) amazing, surprising

Mamkadkemeg                       terrible! (women use) amazing, surprising

Téya, wa téya                          my gosh! (men use)


Bégesh, bégesh na                  wish that

Iw je pi                                     then

Bgosénjegé                             hope for s.t.

Bedo                                        to hope for/to wish for

Dodaské                                  beseech, ask with great imploring


Author: neaseno

I was born on Powers Bluff in Wood County, Wisconsin, into a traditional community of Neshnabek. I was raised speaking only native languages, and learned to speak English upon entering school at the age of 6. As of this writing, I am one of 5 remaining Heritage Fluent Speakers of Potawatomi.

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